Round 2 of the BTCC sees the championship move from the short, quickfire Brand Hatch Indy circuit to the high speed sweeps of Donington Park, home of the fearsome Craner Curves. Saturday saw a day affected by high winds and rain, courtesy of Storm Hannah, lashing the UK with heavy rain and high winds. Race day on Sunday dawned to overcast but dry conditions but with a potential for rain later on in the day.
Colin Turkington took pole position on Saturday for Race 1, it marks Turkington’s first pole position since 2016 and astonishingly it is the first pole position for West Surrey Racing since 2015, the team responsible for running the factory BMW squad. The championship leader Josh Cook starts from second place.
As Race 1 got underway Ash Sutton jumped the second place Honda of Josh Cook into turn 1, at first all seemed to be rather un-dramatic, but as the pack of snarling BTCC cars roared down the Craner Curves and entered the Old Hairpin, chaos ensued.
Rob Collard clipped the BMW of Andrew Jordan, tipping the BMW sideways, with a packed field of cars barrelling through the old hairpin, unsighted and with little time to react, Adam Morgan T-boned the sideways Jordan and in quick succession Stephen Jelley T-boned Jordan’s car for a second time. It was a violent impact and the Pirtek BMW 330 sustained significant damage to the whole nearside of the car. Adam Morgan’s Mercedes had a heavily stoved in front end, signalling the end of their race as well. Stephen Jelley was able to continue with minor damage to the front end of his BMW 125.
In the chaos that ensued, Jake Hill, Ollie Jackson & Matt Simpson all came to grief taking avoiding action resulting in contact and heavily damaging their cars. Jake Hill & Ollie Jackson suffered from severe suspension damage and Matt Simpson’s car accrued significant front end damage. All 3 retired from the race, unsurprisingly, the mayhem brought out the safety car to allow for track clean-up and to recover the stricken cars of Jordan, Jackson & Hill.
The race restarted on lap 6, Tom Ingram in his Toyota Corolla quickly got to work, pushing hard and jumping up into 7th place and making progress. Drama however was not far away, immediately following the restart Bobby Thompson & Nic Hamilton were both given penalties for false start as the safety car came in. This saw Nic Hamilton going off track and badly damaging his Ford Focus RS; that was the end of Hamilton’s race.
The safety car came out, but the field continued to race hard up until the yellow flag on the start/finish line, it saw Josh Cook barged out of the way into the final turn by Sam Tordoff which caused a puncture for Cook; not the way Cook wanted to start his weekend.
The safety car only stayed out for a short period of time, upon the restart Tom Ingram made more ground and was pushing Matt Neal hard, however Dan Cammish in the sister factory Honda wasn’t going down without a fight and was dragging Chris Smiley in the BTC Racing Honda along as well. The resultant Honda, Toyota, Honda, Honda train pounded around but none were quite in a position to make a move.
Sam Tordoff following the restart put a wheel on the grass turning into the final corner, sending his Honda Civic into a lurid spin, plunging him down the order. A simple, uncharacteristic error costing Tordoff a likely podium finish.
Colin Turkington continued to stretch his lead and was able to keep Ash Sutton at bay as the race wore on. Tom Oliphant in the second factory BMW 330 gave chase to Sutton’s Subaru Levorg. Behind, Matt Neal, Tom Ingram, Dan Cammish & Chris Smiley continued to battle and push hard, with Tom Chilton steadily closing in on the 4 car pack.
Race 1 finished in this stead, Colin Turkington took a lights to flag victory and set the fastest lap of the race. Ash Sutton took second place and Tom Oliphant clinched his first BTCC podium. Matt Neal finished in fourth place and Tom Ingram rounded out the top 5.
*Following medical checks by the BTCC medical team, Andrew Jordan was taken to hospital to undergo further medical checks as a precautionary measure due to the nature of the collision in which he was involved.
Colin Turkington starts race 2 on pole position, with Ash Sutton in the Subaru Levorg lining up in second place and Tom Oliphant lining up in third place. Matt Neal lines up in fourth place with Tom Ingram rounding out the top 5.
Andrew Jordan has been withdrawn from the rest of the race weekend due to minor injuries sustained in his race 1 shunt, limited to superficial injuries; we wish Andrew Jordan a speedy recovery.
Adam Morgan, Nicolas Hamilton, Matt Simpson, Ollie Jackson and Jake Hill’s cars have been fixed following their damage in race 1 and start race 2 from the back of the grid.
Race 2 was another clean start, Ash Sutton down into the Craner Curves on the opening lap made a daring move on Tom Oliphant, nerfing the BMW 330 of Oliphant wide and putting Sutton up into second place. Tom Ingram in the Toyota Corolla dropped a position to Dan Cammish on the opening lap, but Cammish fell afoul of being out of position at the race start earning himself a drive through penalty.
Tom Oliphant’s BMW was quickly becoming a moving roadblock for the chasing pack, the light contact with Sutton on the opening lap at the old hairpin had clearly knocked the BMW 330’s suspension out of alignment, causing Oliphant to lose time hand over fist.
The first safety car of the race was brought out as Mark Blundell rear ended Sam Osborne coming down into the final turn, sending both cars into a high speed spin. Osborne manage to escape unscathed with minor bodywork damage; Blundell meanwhile was stranded in the gravel which brought his Race 2 to a premature end.
The safety came into the pits and immediately the action kicked back into action. Colin Turkington continued to hold dominion, further consolidating his lead but the chasing pack wasn’t ready to settle into a rhythm.
Jason Plato made contact with Sam Tordoff going down the Craner Curves which saw Tordoff’s Civic spin off to drivers left and shedding its rear wing in the process. That incident was the end of Tordoff’s race.
Further up the field, Ash Sutton, Matt Neal & Tom Oliphant were battling hard for second position, Oliphant still struggling with his BMW but not the sitting duck he was before. Further down the field Josh Cook was putting in the drive of his life and had moved up from 24th to 9th position by lap 10 and was showing no sign of slowing down.
Matt Neal coming out of Clearways barged the BMW of Tom Oliphant wide and snuck through into second place, the loss of momentum for Oliphant allowed Tom Chilton to cut through and gain a position as well. Further down the order Stephen Jelley & Bobby Thompson collided at Turn 1 and both spun out and suffered bodywork damage; Jelley dived into the pits as a result.
Back at the sharp end of things, Rory Butcher put a blinding move on Tom Oliphant, going round the outside of Oliphant in the Craner Curves and overtaking into the old hairpin. Butcher quickly made his escape. Not too far behind, Jack Goff made a robust attempt to get past Chris Smiley, but the resultant assault on the rear of Smiley’s Honda Civic had broken the offside rear suspension; Smiley only finding out as accelerated down the Craner Curves and the car spat itself off the track, spinning into the gravel which brought out the second safety car of the race.
Daniel Rowbottom came into the pits as the safety came out, the car running slowly and clearly not well which brought a premature end to Rowbottoms race.
As the safety car peeled into the pits and the race resumed to another clean restart, the drivers attacked with renewed vigour, especially those who had spent the race recovering from the rear of the grid. Josh Cook piled the pressure onto Tom Oliphant; Cook made a last minute dive on Oliphant at Turn 1 but his car was not all the way alongside and the resultant contact saw Cook spin Oliphant out. The main beneficiary was Jason Plato, who snuck past the stricken Oliphant and also got past Josh Cook who had lost momentum.
The battle for second down to fifth place raged between Matt Neal, Ash Sutton, Tom Chilton & Rory Butcher, but with none making any significant inroads, although Chilton had a few looks at overtaking Sutton but was never in a position to make a move stick.
As the flag dropped, it was another dominant lights to flag victory for Colin Turkington, with Matt Neal finishing second, Ash Sutton in third, Tom Chilton in fourth and Rory Butcher rounding out the top 5.
At the close of race 2, the traditional race 3 reverse grid draw took place and it is Tom Ingram who starts race 3 from pole position, in front of over 4000 Toyota guests, no pressure then.
Tom Ingram will start race 3 from pole position following the reverse grid draw with Jake Hill lining up alongside him in second place.
Race 3 started and the field got through turn 1 without a hitch but drama awaited at the bottom of the Craner Curves once again. Michael Crees, Carl Boardley & Jack Goff, all in their Team Hard run VW Passat’s. Crees & Boardley both spun off the track making heavy contact with the tyre barriers at the bottom of the craner curves. Jack Goff meanwhile was caught unawares by the field checking up in front of him. Goff went off track to drivers right, slid out of control and came flying back on track; the rear of the car smashing into the front of Nic Hamiltons Ford Focus.
The ensuing mayhem brought out the safety car to recover the two stricken Team HARD Passat’s. Hamilton came into pits with a large swathe of tape holding the right front bodywork together as he returned to the track. Jack Goff meanwhile came into the pits and his car retired on the spot, the damage to the rear end of his VW Passat too great to continue.
The race restarted without any drama. Tom Ingram continued to lead but Jake Hill ‘s Audi S3, Rob Collard in his Vauxhall Astra and Josh Cook in his Honda Civic desperately hung on. The battles for position like in the previous two races were confined to the following pack. Ollie Jackson in his Ford Focus RS being pushed hard and quickly lost two places at the old hairpin, one of the regular overtaking spots in the previous two races.
Another move for position happened at the bottom of the Craner Curves and the old hairpin with Tom Chilton being passed by Rory Butcher and then by Ash Sutton, Chilton struggling with some of the success ballast in his Ford Focus blunting his performance.
Jake Hill running on hard tyres however was finding himself a sitting duck in second place. Collard overhauled Hill and very quickly Hill fell into the clutches of Josh Cook, the harder tyres on the Audi not working well. Cook put a move on Hill at the old hairpin to move into third place. Rory Butcher meanwhile was chasing down Jake Hill at a rate of knots and quickly caught and overtook a struggling Hill, moving into fourth place.
Behind all of this the battle in the mid pack was hotting up nicely. Race 1 & 2 winner Colin Turkington was turning the screw on Tom Chilton for eighth place with Adam Morgan’s Mercedes & Dan Cammish in his Honda Civic being pulled along. Turkington swept past Chilton into the final corner after getting a good run on Chilton out of the penultimate corner. Shortly after Adam Morgan overtook Chilton and Cammish overtook Chilton into the final turn.
A little further up the road, Jake Hill had become the cork in the bottle with Jason Plato and Ash Sutton crawling all over the rear of Hill’s Audi S3. Behind Hill, Sutton managed to outbrake Plato into the final corner. Sutton was now leading the charge against Jake Hill. Whilst the tooth and nail battling was going on in the mid pack, Tom Ingram continued to lead the race with Rob Collard a couple of seconds adrift and not making any inroads on Ingram.
Sutton bided his time, assessing Hill’s weaknesses and played his hand into the final corner using the Subaru Levorgs superior braking performance to overtake Hill’s Audi into the final corner taking fifth place away from Hill. Behind, Adam Morgan in his Mercedes was battling hard with Colin Turkington for 8th place and into the final corner on the penultimate lap, Morgan overtook Turkington.
At the close of Race 3 and the last race of the weekend, Tom Ingram takes his first win of 2019 followed by Rob Collard in second, Josh Cook in third, Rory Butcher fourth and Ash Sutton in fifth.
It also marked the first victory for a Toyota Corolla in the BTCC since Oulton Park in 1982 and it was an emotional victory for Tom Ingram, doing it in front of 4500 Toyota guests. At the end of play, the championship standings look like this
DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
- ASH SUTTON – 70
- JOSH COOK – 67
- COLIN TURKINGTON – 65
- TOM CHILTON – 65
- RORY BUTCHER – 64
TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
- TEAM BMW – 89
- BTC RACING – 88
- ADRIAN FLUX SUBARU RACING – 77
- HALFORDS YUASA RACING – 76
- COBRASPORT AMD AUTO AID/RCIB INSURANCE – 69
The next round of the championship will take place May 18th-19th for the first of two rounds at Thruxton, the fastest track in the UK.